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Jan 17, 2020

Equal Opportunities Bill Consultation is Held in Belize City

Judith Alpuche

On Thursday night, the Ministry of Human Development and National AIDS Commission held a public consultation in Belize City as a part of its community outreach to get feedback on the Equal Opportunities Bill. The seventy-five page document, which seeks to address issues resulting from close to twenty different forms of discrimination, was developed following extensive planning and meetings with input from representatives of Government, the Opposition, social and civil organization partners and other groups. Now, they have taken the bill on the road for the public to ask questions and sound off on the contents. Close to two hundred plus persons showed up for the consultation in Belize City, Proponents of the bill, including C.E.O. Judith Alpuche and two attorneys presented before the question and answer segment. Here’s a snippet of those presentations.


Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development

“This, at the core, is really about leveling the playing field. At the core, our constitution talks about fairness. It is about equality and equity. It is about how we see the merits of every human being, not blinded by characteristics that we might not agree with or we feel uncomfortable with. So, how is it that in a multi-ethnic, multi-plural democracy where we all have to live together, where everybody has an equal right to live, how can we do that together? How can we ensure respect for all?”


Randall Sheppard

Randall Sheppard, Crown Counsel, AG Ministry

“This legislation prohibits screening for HIV in employment and education, unless of course, it is based on public safety. So, we can see what the trickling effect is. If a person is infected with HIV and they have to go to employment and present that information and it doesn’t have anything to do with their job and they don’t pose a risk for any of the other employees; that person shouldn’t have to provide that information because then they might be discriminated and not allowed employment which trickles down to that person not being able provide for their family; leads somebody into poverty. Same with education, you shouldn’t have to provide your HIV results to be able to be admitted into a school because you are refusing a person the opportunity to gain an education.”


Rashad Brathwaite

Rashad Brathwaite, Attorney & Consultant

“I have seen a concern that this legislation is about regulating parental choices; it doesn’t. The legislation doesn’t affect your ability to engage with your children; to their relationships; to tell them what is right and wrong and to lead them according to your own convictions; your own sense of morality and according to your problems. So, I see that as an area of concern.  What are the areas of public life that are covered in this bill. Employment, whether full-time or part time, seasonal, the legislation looks at a holistic definition of employment. In the provision of goods and services, whether that is in banking facilities, insurance, recreation, goods and services and the sale of goods, the legislation provides broad protection.”

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